78. Vs Lich
As the light faded away, it left behind it nothing but a single undead creature. The sheer amount of magical energy that emanated from its body made me feel as if I was getting goosebumps. What stood before us was the most powerful undead known to man. A lich.
Encantation Shortening: Lv 7
Dread: Lv 4
Fear: Lv 4
Regeneration: Lv 6
Spirit Control: Lv Max
Ghost Magic: Lv Max
Hell Magic: Lv 4
The Lich species was one whose name was spread far and wide, and for good reason. They were far more powerful than any other species of undead.
Looking at its stats confused me a bit though. Is that really all it’s got? It’d seemed so intimidating and had so much pressure that I’d almost wanted to classify it as an A ranked threat. I mean, I know that every lich is going to be a bit different, but this guy here, his status seems to show that he’s only a B ranked threat at best.
「Overload: Summon Undead」
The lich started summoning undead before we were able to fully recover from the shock of being unable to port out.
「Why don’t you face off against these first? Kukakaka! Don’t die too easily now.」
The lich simultaneously summoned 10 powerful undead creatures. Even the weakest amongst them was ranked C; half were strong enough to be classified as B level threats. They were just as powerful as the legendary skeleton we had just struggled to defeat just a bit earlier in the day.
「Nn. Ready to go all out.」
We focused our magical energies as we readied ourselves for a battle to the death. We would have to thin out their numbers with magic whilst hoping for an opening with which we could attack the lich.
Or at least that’s what I’d planned before I noticed Jean stepping up in front of us.
「Leave this to me.」
「Absolutely. I shall not fall to the likes of mere pawns so long as I have my staff.」
Jean’s face was plastered with his usual, brazen smile, but I couldn’t help but feel as if he seemed a bit more grim and resolute than usual.
「Hahahaha! Behold, my trump card!」
Jean rises to face the incoming undead head on.
「Aidoneus’ Blessing, commence activation!」
The skull atop the staff almost seems to react to his words; its jaw dropped open with a click, and its eyes seemed to gain a sort of dubious lustre.
A sort of half-hymn half-moan emerges from within the skull. It was hard to describe; it sounded mysterious, creepy, and a bit like a grudgeful prayer all at the same time.
It was quite a strange thing to hear.
「Aidoneus’ Blessing, grant peace to those unable to achieve salvation. Sing them a melody of love, hate, and resentment!」
A blueish-white light flowed out from within the staff.
「Escape, companions! Escape the light!」
The undead attempted to follow the lich’s orders, but there wasn’t any way for them to leave the room. They were eventually caught by the staff’s brilliance.
And when the light finally faded, the summoned undead followed and disappeared back into nothingness.
「It took you only an instant to rid me of my companions?! Kuakakakakaa!! What was that?!」
「The last line you uttered is one that I would like to return to you.」
「And what exactly is that supposed to mean?」
「Hahaha! This staff is a divine artifact that possesses the ability to cause any and every sort of undead to ascend to the heavens. And so, by that logic, you too should have been influenced by its effects. Why exactly are you still here?」
Jean coughed out clot after clot of blood as he spoke. His face had paled to the point where he himself almost looked like he’d already become a member of the undead.
「Thank you kindly.」
「Kukakaka! I see now. The item you possess allows you to use a high level, area of effect purification spell by consuming your own life force. It looks like getting rid of all those high level undead did quite the number on you! Kukakaka!」
Damn, Jean must’ve completely exhausted himself. Casting ascension on Andy alone was already enough to make him feel pretty tired. The spell he just cast probably probably drained him of everything he had. It might’ve even cut into his life span.
『I’ll heal you r-』
「Do not bother. The damage I sustained comes not from injuries but rather plain exhaustion.」
Fran pulls out a stamina potion and hands it over to Jean. Stamina potions were a bit special in the sense that they didn’t recover HP, but instead directly targeted and recovered one’s life force.
「So what will your next move be? It appeared as if your trump card had no effect on me.」
Why did it have no effect anyways? The staff was supposed to get rid of all undead unconditionally. He shouldn’t be fine. Is he not an undead? No, that’s not possible, his status says that he’s a lich.
「As powerful as it may be, that tool of yours has no effect on a being of my caliber!」
That might in fact be true. Liches are practically thought of as kings amongst the undead. There’s always the possibility of the item not working simply because they’re in a class of their own.
「Kuhahaha! Tell me, how does despair feel?」
The lich continued its incessant verbal assault, but it had little effect. We were far from hopeless.
「We cut him, we win.」
『Yeah, that’s the way!』
Fran closes the gap between her and the lich and disallows him the chance to summon anymore undead.
「Kukakakaka! How pointless!」
What? The sword’s just passing through him? None of his skills were supposed to do anything like that…
Fran tried to use an elemental blade attack while I tried to use magic, but neither had any sort of effect. Both passed right through him, just like initial slash. At first, I thought that the lich was just an illusion or something, but that’s impossible given that he’s already used magic. And on top of that, he even counterattacked the moment our strikes passed right through him.
All he did was throw a single punch, but that was enough to halve Fran’s HP. He was definitely more than just an illusion.
Wait, how did he do that much damage with only 134 STR? He’s supposed to be weak as hell, and it’s not like he used any skills or magic either. How the hell did he manage to chunk Fran so badly?
『There’s got to be some sort of trick to this.』
There has to be something in his status page that I’m missing. Or actually, his status page could be wrong altogether. Everything would totally check out if he had some type of appraisal jamming skill.
『What a pain in the ass.』
『He’s definitely using some sort of trick to phase through our attacks, so we might be able to steal it from him if we use Skill Taker, but…』
I can’t really affirm the specifics because Appraisal isn’t working properly.
『Jean, have you tried that skill of yours?』
（It does not work. Soul Seeing eyes has no effect on the undead.）
『Have you thought of any sort of strategy then?』
（I haven’t anything on the level of a strategy, but I would like the two of you to buy me a slight bit of time if possible.）
『Will buying you time let us beat this guy?』
（I cannot say for sure, but I would like you to trust me on this.）
Well, it seems like he’s got something up his sleeve. He isn’t all that confident about it, but we’re already grasping at straws here, so might as well go along with it.
『We’ll end up stalling for you if we just fight it anyways, so why not.』
（You have my thanks.）
An hour passed.
We were still fighting against wave after wave of undead.
「What’s the matter? Are you tired already? You’re starting to get stiff.」
「Splendid! How splendid! I cannot wait until I see the look on your face when all that hope takes a sudden turn and transforms into despair. You will make for fine undead! Kukakakaka!」
Our attacks have yet to show any effect on the lich. We’ve tried all sorts of things during our battle with the undead he summoned; we threw as many spells and attacks his way as we could, but each and every single one would just end up slipping right through him.
The only reason we were able to last this long in the first place was because he was just toying with us. He himself wouldn’t do anything at all, and he even let Fran heal up when necessary.
It seems that he’s more interested in crushing our spirits and turning us into undead than defeating us – which makes sense. I’m pretty sure a necromancer as powerful as Jean could probably even end up turning into a Lich.
But thanks to that, we were able to buy Jean enough time to complete his preparations.
「Come on, why’d you stop moving? I’m going to summon even more undead at this rate.」
Urushi fired a Dark Lance at the lich, but as expected, it was to no avail.
「Yes, yes, exactly. You must keep attacking at all times. Now, why don’t you show me what it is you’ve been plotting this whole time?」
「Will definitely hit you.」
「Kukakakaka! Go ahead. If you can, that is.」
I was already down to about half my mana. The same applied to Fran, Urushi and Jean as well.
『Still not done yet, Jean?』
（Just a second longer! And for certain this time!）
After repeating a phrase he’s said time and time again, Jean finally reveals why he had us stall for time.
A loud explosion rings throughout the hall as it begins to shake with the intensity of a magnitude 5 earthquake. What the hell!? Did someone drop a bomb in the dungeon or something?!
「W-What in the world are you doing?!」
The lich’s usual, haughty attitude vanishes in an instant.
「It seems to have worked.」
「You did that?」
「T’was a subordinate of mine.」
It looked like what Jean was waiting for this whole time was for one of his subordinates to destroy something.
「T-The Phantom Flame is losing its magical power!? M-My forlorn desires, they’re disappearing!!? Arghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!」
『What’s happening to him?』
「He should be growing weaker as we speak. His strength stemmed from his ability to draw from the dungeon’s mana supply, and let us just say that I’ve arranged for it to be removed from right under his feet.」
『You should’ve just told us you were doing something like that.』
「My apologies. I would not have been able to destroy it lest you distracted the lich.」
「Deceiving one’s allies is how one truly begins to deceive the enemy. I’ve no idea as to whether or not he possessed any sort of skill that would allow him to read minds, so I felt it better to hide it from you.」
「You bastard! You shall not be forgiven! I no longer have any need to turn the lot of you into subordinates! I’ll crush your limbs and have you tormented by the undead until you wish to have never been born! I refuse to let you know peace, even in death!!」